Probing YA Writer’s Absence from Borders Shelves

By Neal Comment

As FishbowlLA co-editor Kate Coe has discovered, Jim Webb isn’t the only novelist getting grief for racy prose—Veronica Mars writer Aury Wallington has published a young-adult novel called Pop!, and she’s getting some flack for the juicy parts. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that in recognition of Wallington’s contributions as a instructor, the company’s West Coast office is throwing a book party for Pop! next week.)

popart.jpgKate reports: Borders, according to a Book Standard column by Jessa Crispin, won’t be stocking the novel. The book, which has enjoyed a generally good critical reception, concerns a seventeen-year-old virgin and her quest to have sex; Wallington wrote it as an homage to Judy Blume’s Forever.

FBLA called Ami Hassler, children’s buyer for Borders Group (we didn’t actually expect to get her on the phone, but sometimes we just get lucky). Hassler told us that Warhol-style covers don’t do well and that a quote attributed to her in Crispin’s coverage was not in reference to Pop!, but rather to another book.

Here’s the passage from Crispin’s article in question:

While Barnes & Noble made the decision to carry Pop!, that’s not what happened at the other big store. Ami Hassler, children’s buyer for Borders Group, Inc., said, “It is true that we monthly review many titles and because the space in the YA section is not unlimited, we make choices every day regarding what to carry and what not to carry. Other factors in this decision include the format of the book, the price, the cover design, and the competitive landscape.”

Crispin really didn’t buy the bad cover story: “Wallington was disappointed to hear that Borders wouldn’t be carrying her first novel, especially with no clear answers as to why,” she wrote. “Sexual content? No established audience? Perhaps it really was just the cover art—though that seems pretty unlikely, considering the image is of a soda can emblazoned with the title.”

Wallington is pretty chipper about the whole thing, explaining to FBLA how the title comes from a character’s description, late in the book, of feeling “carbonated, like little bubbles of happiness were fizzing up inside me, pop pop pop!” She added, “I think the cover is so bright and fun that it really expresses the happiness Marit ends up feeling at the end of the book.”

Hassler didn’t promise to carry the book, though, and FBLA thinks that’s too bad. We were taught not to judge a book by its cover.